Today’s noms

I’ve been out walking for 6.5 hours (minus 1.5 hours for food), and worked up an appetite.  I visited the State Capitol, the University of Wisconsin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace Convention Center on the waterfront, and the area around the University. I took a bunch of pictures, but for now will confine myself to today’s meals.

My first destination, brought to my attention by Annie Laurie Gaylor, was the University Dairy (Babcock Hall Dairy Store), an ice cream and cheese purveyor, with product made from milk sourced from University-owned cows and processed by the Agriculture School and its students.

I always visit university dairies when I can (this is my third, after Penn State and Michigan State), as the ice cream is always fresh, high quality, and delicious. Unfortunately, the UW Dairy store, in Babcock Hall, is located in a remote part of campus, and many students I asked didn’t know where it was. (What is wrong with students these days?)

But nevertheless I persisted, and after 1.5 hours of searching I found it!:


The next difficulty was choosing a flavor. They were all high in butterfat, and it was 11 a.m., so I knew I would eat lunch in a few hours. I had to be abstemious. Here are just a few of the flavors on tap:



After avid discussion with the counterman, I decided on a triple scoop of Badger Blast, Chocolate Turtle, and Angel Food Cake. Here’s my prize. I think the Badger Blast was the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had. The Chocolate Turtle, also wonderful, is the top scoop:

After your snack, you can follow the cow-shaped footprints upstairs to see the whole dairy operation, where they bottle milk and cream and make cheese and ice cream:

It’s a HUGE operation:

The building is named after Dr. Stephen Babcock, who gained immortality in the annals of dairying by developing a simple way to assess the amount of fat in milk, which allowed breeders to breed for that trait in their cows. Here he is performing his test. And I believe the University dairy has been going since the late 1880s:

I was full after my bowl of high-butterfat ice cream, and knew I had to walk for a few hours to get hungry again (I’ve been abstemious here, having had a light breakfast and an eggplant sandwich for lunch yesterday [no dinner] and sushi for dinner the night before. I decided to head to a Madison institution for lunch, The Old Fashioned, known for local Wisconsin cuisine.

The ambience is that of a Wisconsin roadhouse:

The laws of physics determined that I had no choice about what I ordered: a classic Wisconsin meal. To wit: a double bratwurst with onions, pickles, and mustard on a roll, a side of fried cheese curds, and a local brewski: a One Barrel Brewing Penguin Pale Ale (5.7% ABV). This is a perfect meal! (Anybody food-shaming me had best go elsewhere):

Gus was fascinated by cheese curds, especially because he heard that, when not fried, they squeak when you bite them. I sent him a photo, which he’s looking at here, pointing at the cheese curds.

And oy, am I full! Today is normally a fasting day for me, but those go out the window when I’m traveling. I’ll make up for it on the weekend.


  1. zoolady
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    OF COURSE one must adjust one’s blood sugar levels after all that walking! Of course! Wish I hadn’t been hungry when I read those ice cream varieties. DID YOU BRING SOME BACK FOR EVERYONE? 🙂

  2. Merilee
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    That badger blast would have been my first choice, too. You call that abstemious??🙀

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I don’t think that word means what Jerry thinks it means.

    • BJ
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      I was just about to ask, if that’s abstemious for him, what the hell is gourmandizing?

  3. GBJames
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I’ve enjoyed the Friday fish fry at The Old Fashioned. And the fine beer selection, of course.

    You might, should you have the chance, try Great Dane brewpub which is a block or two away.

    • Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      The Old Fashioned has 150 beers! I had to have a discussion with the waiter to be able to choose one.

      • Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        When I place has that many beers, it makes me wonder which are fresh. Perhaps they drink a lot of beer there.

        • Simon Hayward
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          it’s Wisconsin, and a huge college town to boot, they drink a lot of beer there!

          • Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

            And a college town that, even for WI, has a reputation for drinking! (My wife is from northeastern WI.)

  4. frankzollo
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Cornell’s was excellent, though I have to admit it was several years ago.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a great selection. The ice cream
    should certainly be first class in Wisconsin, lots of dairy up there. My only time in that country was Oshkosh, where they do the biggest air show in the country. The show lasts a whole week.

  6. Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    It all looked good to me but I would have had grilled onions with the bratwurst instead of raw.

    • Mark R.
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Grilled onions and kraut for me!

  7. GBJames
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Back in the day I used to love visiting Babcock Hall for ice cream while dodging tear gas.

  8. Ann German
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Lazy Jane’s for breakfast, 1358 Williamson, Madison . . . yum.

    • Mack
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Lazy Jane’s is definitely a good suggestion and a walk down Willy St is infinitely better than traipsing around the west end of campus. Also, if one is looking for the finest cheese curds, they can be found just up Pinckney St at Graze.

  9. Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Good googly moogly, you can still move?!

  10. Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Bratwurst – finally, there it is, the positive connotated word from the German vocabulary 🙂

    • Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      They are probably fairly different from what one would find in Germany. But maybe not. There is a very strong German heritage in Wisconsin.

      I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Germany; but my memories of the Bratwurst aren’t very clear.

      It varies a lot in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The fashion now is to add things to it, especially: Cheese bits, wild rice, jalapeno pepper bits, apple bits, etc. Our local butcher makes one that has wild rice and cheese in it (and other stuff not fully defined). There are delicious.

      I was initially put off by the variants (“what? ruin a perfectly wonderful sausage?”); but after trying some, I was converted. (I still don’t care for fruit in my sausage — I don’t like mixing sweet into savory (and vice versa) despite the current craze for sugaring everything.)

  11. ploubere
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    The weather is probably not optimal yet, but on a warm day there is no better place to be with a pitcher of beer than Monona Terrace. Assuming they still serve beer there? I haven’t been back in 20 years.

  12. Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink


  13. Laurance
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Penn State! You were here at Penn State? If it was before July of 2000 (or after April of 1984) I was in NY State in the Ithaca/Cornell area.

    But since July of 2000 I’ve been back home here. Did I miss out on an event starring Professor Ceiling Cat?

    • Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      I doubt it. I gave a science seminar there, and it was most likely before 2000.

  14. Chris
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Shoot! I wanted to see you speak this week but I’ve been under the weather. I hope you come back at some point. There are a lot of great places for Noms and/or Beer here. The easiest way to get to Babcock is to walk west on University Ave. until you come to a fork in front of the Biochemistry buildings (lots of great science there). Follow the right hand road. Babcock is the building on the left. Check out Chocolate Shoppe Ice Creme (there is one on State St.) if you like ice creme.

  15. ladyatheist
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I would have food-shamed you for being abstemious on vacation in the presence of so many one-of-a-kind ice creams!

  16. Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Did you get a cheese-head hat to complete your visit?

  17. Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Good noms!

  18. Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Good choices in the Old Fashioned!

    Eat like a local! 🙂

  19. Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I’ve never been to Wisconsin, but I’ve heard about the dairy and the German influences. This seems to go along with that.

    Anything unusual about the pickles, or are they the usual “central European” derived sort? (Dill?)

    • Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Mostly dill (not sure what Jerry had, obviously).

      Yes, the European immigrants to Wisconsin were predominantly from: Germany, Bohemia (Czech), and Poland.

      In other words: Beer, sausage, cheese, and sauerkraut! And they do them well.

      Used to be just yer block o’yellow and block o’white cheese; but now there are world class cheeses made in WI, MN, IA, WA, OR, CA, ID, and I’m sure many other places in the US.

%d bloggers like this: